Can We Talk About R.A. Dickey?

The Texas Rangers drafted R.A. Dickey with the 18th overall pick in the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft. Back then, his stuff was dime-a-dozen. His fastball could hit the high-80’s, he had a breaking ball when he needed it, and a forkball he called “The Thing.” Dickey first broke into the bigs in 2001. Between then and 2006 he posted a 5.72 ERA in 266 innings.

A lot of people thought 2004 was going to be the turning point in Dickey’s career. He started that season 4-1, but when things were all said and done he’d gone 6-7 with an ERA of 5.61. Dickey first began experimenting with the knuckleball in 2005, and Texas gave him a chance to use it as a starter in 2006. In his first time on the mound that year, Dickey gave up six home runs. Six. Matching the record of another knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield. He never pitched for the Rangers again.

Fast forward to 2010. The New York Mets are making their first spring cuts, and the 35-year-old Dickey, who’d been trying to latch on as the team’s last guy out of the bullpen, is sent to minor league camp.

Alright, let’s fast forward again, to last night, when the very same Dickey (well, he’s 37 now) threw his second one-hitter… in a row. To top it off, he did it against Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles. Guess who was managing the Rangers when Dickey gave up those six home runs. Guess whose idea it was for Dickey to start throwing the knuckler.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to [Showalter]. He’s the one that gave me the opportunity to cultivate that pitch at the foundational levels down in the minor leagues with the Texas Rangers. He believed I could do it. Now, it took a while for me to get it. He gave me the… I’m trying to think of the right word. He gave me the canvas to be able to operate on. He was the guy; he and Orel [Hershisher] kind of pushed me in that direction. I’m thankful they did,” Dickey told ESPN.

Now get this: it’s the first time since 1988, when Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays did it, that any Major Leaguer has thrown two consecutive one-hitters. The last time a National Leaguer did it was in 1944, 65 years ago, when Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves accomplished the feat. Only 10 pitchers have allowed one hit or fewer in consecutive games since 1900. And R.A. Dickey? R.A. Dickey is the only man in the history of modern baseball to throw back-to-back one-hitters with at least 10 strikeouts in each. Last night, Dickey fanned 13 Orioles, and on June 13 in Tampa Bay, the man struck out 12.

R.A. Dickey was a “bust” of a first-round pick who had an RADickeylous (sorry) name for his forkball. Was. Now, with 68 games (or 42 percent) of the season in the books, R.A. Dickey is the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young. He’s also the Mets’ ace, which might not mean much if their roster didn’t contain the two-time Cy Young winning, no-hitter throwing, Johan Santana. But it does.

Dickey is now 11-1, no other Mets pitcher has ever reached 10 games over .500 so quickly. While Dickey did it in 68 games, the previous Met record belong to Tom Seaver, who reached 13-3 in the 77th game of the Mets’ 1969 season. Dickey already owns the Mets record for most consecutive scoreless innings with 32 2/3, but he’s also gone 42 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run, the second best streak in franchise history. The team record is Doc Gooden’s, who went 49 innings in 1985.

But enough about the Mets. Dickey’s 11 wins lead the majors, and he’s tied for the league lead in ERA (2.00), strikeouts (103), and complete games (three). And for those who complain about baseball being a “slow” game, last night’s contest took all of 127 minutes.

Anything could happen from now until October, but R.A. Dickey is the best pitcher in the majors this season, and 42 percent is by no means insignificant.


Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

The Washington Nationals are Doing it Right

In case you haven’t heard, the Washington Nationals are a thing now. No, really. At 36-23, they’ve got the second best record in baseball, the best team ERA, and as much as it pains me to say it, this little thing called Bryce Harper, luckily sans “skullet,” which makes it hurt a little less.

Here’s the thing about the Nats though, after Harper they don’t hit very well, or at all really. They’re at the back end of the majors with 230 runs (25th), a .243 batting average (24th), and a paltry .311 on base percentage (24th). How then are they at the top of the NL East, one of the league’s most contentious divisions, by a comfortable three games over the Braves and five over the Mets and Marlins? Well if it’s not the hitting…

Let’s talk about this Nats pitching staff. As mentioned, their 2.98 ERA is the best in the majors, they’ve also got a league best 1.14WHIP  and .220 batting average against. Here’s the thing about their rotation, Edwin Jackson (he of the 3.02 ERA) is their number four starter. Four. Ahead of him they’ve got Jordan Zimmermann (2.91), Gio Gonzalez (2.35), and phenom Stephen Strasburg (2.41). So if your team’s playing the Nationals on any given night, there’s an 80 percent chance they’ll be trying to hit a guy with an ERA of 3.02 or less. Think about that for a second. And as much as I love Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, no team in the league has a 1-2 punch better than Strasburg and Gonzalez, who Grantland’s Shane Ryan called “the most dynamic Washington duo since Mondale-Ferraro fever swept the District in ’84.”

With a rotation like that, they’ve probably got an awful bullpen, right? I mean everyone’s got an awful bullpen. Nope. National relievers have the NL’s fourth best combined ERA, 3.12. But that’s OK, their closer’s injured and having a good closer means everything, right? Wrong. Even if closer was a worthwhile baseball position and not just a money-making tool, the absence of Drew Storen (the team’s first-round pick in 2009), who had 43 saves and a 2.75 ERA last year, hasn’t hurt the Nationals any. Since stepping into the role Tyler Clippard is eight for eight in save opportunities. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s got guys like Sean Burnett (1.35 ERA, 23 K’s in 20 innings pitched) and Craig Stammen (1.80 ERA, 32 K’s in 30 innings pitched) behind him.

But up there, when I said “the Washing Nationals are doing it right,” I wasn’t really talking about any of this stuff. Well, except the wins. What I really meant was the way the Nats are handling things behind the scenes. There’s only one way for a team that won 69 games in 2010 and 59 in 2009 and 2008 to be this good this year: making the right draft choices, spending money on free agents when it’s called for (without wasting it when it isn’t, well besides Jayson Werth), and pulling the trigger, without spending too much, on high-risk high-reward pick ups. Edwin Jackson is a perfect example of the final strategy, the journeyman has bounced around the league and had a few successful seasons here and there, but he’s never been able to really pull it together. But Jackson is only 28, and now he’s having his best year ever, so an appropriate suffix for the previous sentence just might be “until now.”

Despite the record and accolades, the Nationals are in the bottom third of MLB payrolls (20th, $81,336,143). Furthermore, three of the team’s four best hitters: Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond, as well as Strasburg and Zimmermann (note the second “n”) are homegrown. It took a while for the Nats to get their shit together following the move from Montreal, but it’s happened, and now the team is here to stay. Don’t be surprised if you see them in the playoffs (or at least the NL East hunt) for the next few years.

What’s more Improbable: a No-hitter or no No-hitters?

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history on June 1. It took the Mets 51 seasons and 8,020 games to get their first no-no, so it’s been a long time coming. Believe me, prior to Friday a significant portion of Mets fans counted down from 27 until the opposing team got their first hit every single game. I know I did.

A no-hitter is a rarity. It’s an unbelievable attraction that can spark a team, lift a fan base, and give meaning to an entire season. Just listen for Ron Darling’s yelp when you watch Johan get the final strike. As far as I’m concerned, my team won the World Series on Friday. But when you’ve been playing as long as the Mets have is it more improbable that they finally got a no-hitter or that it took until now to get it?

Ironically enough, Baseball Prospectus published an article about the unlikelihood of the Mets not having a no-hitter just three days before Johan’s occurred. BP used a (relatively) simple equation to calculate the probability and ended up with this: “Between the birth of the Mets in 1962 and May 27th, 2012, there were 209,764 starts made by major-league pitchers, with 131 ending up as no-hitters. This gives us a p(no-hitter) of .000625.” Based on those odds as well as a more complicated model used by Rob Neyer and Bill James, the Mets should have thrown five no-hitters through their first 8,008 games. Should.

But looking past the raw numbers is when the real fun (or agony) begins. Major League Baseball officially recognizes 275 no-hitters between 1876 and 2012, including Johan’s. Over the same time period, a player has hit for the cycle 293 times, which makes the two feats near equally common. The Mets have never had a problem with the latter accomplishment. Ten players have hit for the cycle while wearing a Mets uniform, the most recent being Scott Hairston on April 27.

Furthermore, of the 275 no-hitters in history, 24 were thrown by pitchers who played for the Mets at some point in their careers. Most notable is Nolan Ryan, who threw seven no-hitters after leaving the team, but Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver, David Cone, Mike Scott, and Phillip Humber each got one after their Mets career ended. Additionally, Al Leiter, Don Cardwell, Brett Saberhagen, Dock Ellis, Kenny Rogers, John Candelaria, Scott Erickson, and Dean Chance threw one, and Warren Spahn two no-hitters before coming to the Mets. Just to pile it on, Hideo Nomo threw two no-hitters as well, one before and one after playing for the Mets. Let’s just keep piling it on: A.J. Burnett, who was drafted by the Mets (although he never played for them), threw a no-no in 2001, while Alejandro Pena and Octavio Dotel combined with others for no-hitters in 1991 and 2003 respectively; which, of course, was after they’d left the Mets.

But wait, there’s more! Do you know who the Mets traded Nolan Ryan for? Of course not, because it’s Jim Fregosi, who had an astonishing five home runs and 32 RBI in 146 games over a season and a half with the team. Young Met superstars Gooden and Cone pitched their no-hitters for the cross-town rival Yankees. Perhaps most egregious of all, Tom Seaver, who pitched for the Mets for over a decade and was accurately nicknamed “The Franchise” (he remains the only player wearing a Mets hat on his Hall of Fame plaque), threw his no-hitter in 1978, his first full season on another team.

Don’t worry, I’m still not done. The Mets have collected 35 one-hitters over the years. Seaver had five of those, and three were no-hit bids that he lost in the ninth inning. Damn you Jimmy Qualls! The team’s most recent one-hitter came from R.A. Dickey on August 13, 2010. Whoever got the lone hit in that game? Why, starting pitcher Cole Hamels of course. Yes, you read that right. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels.

Just one more story. This whole drought/half-century of misery thing could have been avoided but for a Joe Amalfitano single in the Mets’ very first season. In June 1962, rookie pitcher Al Jackson gave up that single in the first inning of a double header before “settling down.” He  went the next nine innings without giving up a hit. The New York Times headline the following day: “A Single in First Spoils No-Hitter.”

There you have it, a much-abridged version of our tale of anguish. So please don’t roll your eyes every time you read that the Mets “finally got a no-hitter,” even when “finally” is in italics. And don’t you dare say the team (and its fans) didn’t earn or deserve it, even if Carlos Beltran’s ball did hit the line.

Conflicting reports on the health of Johan Santana

The Bergen Record is reporting that Johan Santana’s shoulder has not been progressing as the Mets have hoped and the club now believes that they’ll be lucky if he pitches at all in 2011.

But according to, the paper might have misguided information.

The source told Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch that the team is concerned enough that they could halt Santana’s rehab if his light throwing doesn’t go well, which would wipe out the previous timetable of a return in late June/early July. However, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen has scoffed at the report, saying Santana’s progress actually “has been great,” and “he’s right on time, if not maybe a step or two ahead of that.” Mets GM Sandy Alderson also chimed in, saying “there’s nothing wrong” with Santana’s rehab. It appears the report might be misguided, but the reality is that if Santana does return for the second half this season, no one is sure just how effective he’ll be.

Interesting. Teams aren’t always truthful when it comes to injuries but Warthen is pretty convincing with his words. Then again, it doesn’t do the Mets any good to shed doubt about the injury progress of one of their players when he still has months to go in his recovery. If he winds up being out for the season then so be it. But if he still has a ways to go, why not just stay positive until they know more?

Either way, Rotoworld hits the nail on the head: Even if Santana does return at some point this season, who knows how effective his shoulder will allow him to be.

Christmas at the Rodriguez house is going to be a little awkward this year

July 11, 2010 - Flushing, New York, United States of America - 11 July 2010:  New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez.

According to a report by the New York Post, Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez was arrested at Citi Field on Wednesday after he went nutso on his father-in-law.

The blowup occurred just minutes after the Mets’ bullpen cost the team another game in the eighth inning in a game against the Rockies. Manager Jerry Manuel decided not to use K-Rod for a four-out save, instead using Manny Acosta, who promptly gave up a two-out granny to Colorado’s Melvin Mora.

Rodriguez, nicknamed K-Rod for his many strikeouts, allegedly clashed with the 53-year-old man at around 10:15 p.m. amid other players’ families after the Mets blew a lead to the Colorado Rockies and lost, 6-2.

The 28-year-old record-holder for most saves in a single-season was arrested and charged with assault.

“Mind your own f—king business!” the irate pitcher spewed at reporters asking about the incident.

His father-in-law, whose name was withheld, was taken to Flushing Hospital with facial bruises and a head bump.

Cops wouldn’t say whether Rodriguez is accused of slugging or shoving his wife’s father.

Let’s not jump to conclusions here – fights happen for a variety of reasons. One would think that there’s nothing that could get a son-in-law so mad that he would punch or shove his father-in-law, but maybe K-Rod’s father-in-law made fun of the goofy goggles that K-Rod wears. Who knows?

The main story here is how big of a mess the Mets are once again. Johan Santana is being accused of impregnating a woman after assaulting her on a golf course and now K-Rod is beating up family members in the clubhouse. This team went into the All-Star break feeling pretty good about life and now they’re a filthy disaster again.

Ah, the Mets.

Update: Check that, is now reporting that the beaten man was K-Rod’s girlfriend’s father and not his father-in-law. Either way, that’s not the best way to impress your girl.

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